Today, I want to talk a little bit about how to decide what to eat, meaning what you REALLY want.
One of the principles of Intuitive Eating (there are 10) is to Challenge the Food Police.
Challenge The Food Police
Who is the food police?
The food police is the inner voice inside our heads. It’s normal. We have all experienced it at some time or another, and still probably do sometimes.
The food police voice is the one that tells us we don’t deserve dessert because we didn’t exercise today. Or, the voice that categorizes foods as “good” and “bad.” The food police views our actions, or lack of actions, as willpower.
It bases our choices on what others may think of us, rather than satisfying ourselves. Obeying the food police means succumbing to external pressure and validity, rather than tuning into our internal voice.
The food police is everywhere. Your old teammate who thought she had to eat less meat to run faster. Or, a coworker who declared she’s given up carbs for good because carbs make you gain fat (yes, all carbs she says…gasp!).
Even the trainer at the gym telling you to eat clean. These instances, whether people are trying to influence you or not, can play a role in our inner minds. But, we don’t want to let them!
I was out to dinner on Saturday for wine and tapas night. I love wine and I love tapas because I can try a bunch of things.
But when I sat down to the menu, though I had previously planned on ordering tapas, I made a last minute decision that I was hungrier than two smaller tapas plates. So I nixed the plan, and went with the steak.
Because that’s what I wanted in the moment.
And honestly, the cocktail menu sounded too good to pass up, so I settled for two cocktails rather than two glasses of wine. I was very pleased with my choices.
The Food Police Can Tell You To Ignore Your Hunger
The food police can also show up and tell you not to eat because you ate an hour ago. “You shouldn’t need to eat again, Sarah. You ate oatmeal for breakfast, and oatmeal is healthy. Wait until lunch.”
Ask Yourself, What Do I Want To Eat?
Check in with yourself periodically and ask, “What do I want to eat right now?” If you’re on your way home from work, ask yourself, “what do I want to eat tonight?”
These questions are important to honor those cues.
What the food police doesn’t know is how your body operates and what you want. It’s just going to throw information at you, but won’t tell you how to utilize it.
The food police doesn’t know that you exercised for longer yesterday, or maybe you ate half the size of dinner last night than you normally do. No wonder you’re hungry. If you’re hungry, that’s a sign from your body for fuel.
If You’re Hungry, Eat! Here’s another example: We all know whole grains are great and all, but sometimes you might just want white rice or white bread, or white dough pizza!
I love whole grains and I eat plenty of them in my diet, and I recommend you do too. But, c’mon, it’s hard to deny the wonderful fluffiness of white rice.
And the food police might tell you to never eat white anything because it will spike your blood sugar (this is wellness culture in disguise). But if that’s what you want, then that’s what you should get. Pair it with protein for a complete meal because your body will feel better when you do that.
One food decision doesn’t matter…we make 16400 of them a day. The important thing is we learn to eat more of what makes us feel good for the long term.
In this post about intuitive eating, I talked about how it’s very important to tune in to your hunger cues, satiety cues and signals from your body.
What do you really want and what will make you feel good?
Sometimes you also have to use your brain a little bit, too, and turn up the mind knowledge part of nutrition.
For example, if you’re asking yourself, “What do I want to eat?,” the answer may be “nothing.” You may not feel hungry at the moment, but you know you’ll be at an event without food in reach for 4 hours.
Therefore, you know that you should eat something as a form of self-care and to keep your energy stable throughout the event.
Remember, you are different from each and every person out there. What works for them won’t necessarily work for you.
At restaurants, do you pick out your order ahead of time or are you a last minute decision orderer?